I am not a shopper. Never have been. I didn’t get that “female gene” in my core. I’d rather do . . . well, just about anything rather than shop. I only venture into retail brick-and-mortar stores when I absolutely have to, for a specific need. A quick trip into TJMaxx is fine. I know what I need, I find it or I don’t and I’m out of there. A day spent at the mall is the equivalent of torture for me.
So when it comes time for holiday shopping I do it from my couch. If it can’t find it online, it doesn’t get put under the tree. The good news is that today EVERYTHING can be found online. And paying shipping doesn’t bother me . . . my time driving to the store, waiting in line, finding parking, etc. is much more valuable than a shipping fee.
As a self-proclaimed “expert” online shopper, here is my gift to you: my online shopping tips for you last-minute gift buyers:
• Shop sites you know and trust. Trust your instincts. If you don’t feel comfortable buying or bidding on an item over the web, or if you feel pressured to place your order immediately, maybe you shouldn’t. Never ever, ever buy anything online using your credit card from a site that doesn’t have SSL (secure sockets layer) encryption installed—at the very least.
• Make a List and Check it Twice. Make a list of absolutely everyone you need to buy for and how much you plan to spend on them before starting your shopping– and stick to the list. I find it’s easier to fill your cart with unnecessary items when the cart is electronic. Before you know it, you’ve spent a bundle at checkout.
• Comparison shop. Sites such as Shop.com are wonderful for comparison shopping. Need a purple scarf for cousin Becky? Type “purple scarf” into Shop.com’s search engine and it will pull up every online store that sells one, showing you prices and shipping options. When you choose one to purchase, you jump directly to that retailer’s site. Easy. Peasy.
• Ship gifts directly to the recipient. Most online retailers can ship items to a different location than your billing address. Take advantage of this feature by sending your gifts to several places at checkout. Spend a few extra bucks and most sites will gift wrap them for you too. Another way to take advantage of this feature is to send gifts ahead of your arrival if you are traveling for the holiday. No need to lug packages through TSA checkpoints.
• Smartphone = Smart Shopping. When a random thought hits you re: a gift you need to purchase, don’t wait until you get to your computer. Shop from your phone . . . or tablet. The browsers on smartphones today are just as sophisticated and secure as your computer’s.
• Good Will. Don’t forget to stop at a charity site to round out your holiday shopping. If you give to charities during the holidays, there’s no need to ship checks via the mail. Online secure credit card transactions will do just fine and save you the stamp. There are many online resources to choose the charity that’s right for you and to confirm that the organization is legit.
One more thought: Do we really need Christmas cards in this day and age? Most people I would send a card to keep up with me on Facebook or other social media sites. They see pictures of me and my family and get updates about me all the time. Are the time and expense that go into Christmas cards still necessary? Discuss. Let me know what you think!
By, Kira Perdue